2007 was an interesting news year for those of us who follow the MMORPG industry. With the calendar now showing 2008, it seemed like a good time to sit back and reflect on some of the biggest news stories of the last year:
January 16th, 2007
Blizzard released the first full expansion for their colossal MMORPG, World of Warcraft. The expansion, dubbed “The Burning Crusade”, added new areas, new content, new classes, new features, and even a pair of new races (Blood Elves for the Horde and Draenei for the Alliance).
The real story for the release of this expansion though was the retail frenzy that it created. Shortly after launch day (which began at midnight on the 16th, with people lined up for hours at their local game stores), Blizzard announced that they had “broken the day-one sales record to become the fastest-selling PC game ever in North America and Europe, with a worldwide total of nearly 2.4 million copies sold in the first 24 hours of availability.”
The outstanding success of the expansion and the continued growth of Warcraft’s player base in 2007 resulted in the announcement of a new expansion for the King of MMOs titled, Wrath of the Lich King”.
January 30th, 2007
Sigil Games Online released the highly-anticipated Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Many MMORPG gamers had placed their hopes for the year on the launch of this game, and it was even voted second-most anticipated game in our 2006 MMORPG.com Reader’s Choice Awards, coming in only five percent behind EA Mythic’s Warhammer Online.
With sub-par previews and a launch that was universally accepted as premature (with a lack of completeness and content, bugs and numerous other issues), Vanguard was considered by many to be a disappointing failure. So much so that on May 15th, news started to come out that not only had Sony Online Entertainment acquired the full rights to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, but that Sigil Games Online had folded and that their employees had been asked to gather in the company’s parking lot and officially fired.
Sony Online Entertainment, the new developers of the game, promised to spend time continuing to develop and finish the game. Today, many new features and fixes have been applied to the game as SOE tries to salvage what could be considered to be one of the worst ever MMORPG launches.
April 24th, 2007
Turbine officially launched an MMORPG adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Online, a franchise that many give credit for the modern fantasy genre. In contrast with the Vangaurd launch in January, Lord of the Rings Online was considered by many to be one of the smoothest MMORPG launches in recent memory.
Not only did Turbine innovate the industry with a number of unique gameplay features (including their Music System, Monster Play, Chicken Play a detailed Deed system), but they also innovated with their business model. While the company opted to offer a regular subscription fee, they also opened up the option of a $199 lifetime membership, allowing players to pay up front for a permanent subscription. The unique payment option was well received and sold far more than was expected.
Turbine continues to add free updates to their game in the form of additional “books”, and as 2007 wrapped up, the developers had begun dropping hints about a possible future paid expansion.
May 22nd, 2007
MMORPG.com learned that VWORLD, a digital terrain-making company, was suing NPCube and Farlan Entertainment, the companies behind the disastrous Dark and Light, for violation of intellectual property rights.
VWORLD alleged that the companies were, “illegally [exploiting] the procedural algorithms that characterize VWorldTerrain technology and [claiming] ownership on them, which is an obstacle to its correct marketing by VWORLD”.
May 25th, 2007
CCP, the makers of the MMORPG, EVE Online were accused of developer cheating by certain members of their community.
The claims were made based upon allegations that CCP Sharkbait acted unprofessionally by joining one player corporation in order to spy upon it for another. CCP then initiated internal investigations of the incident, asserting that Sharkbait’s actions were within the scope of his job in dealing with a player-risen petition.
This incident, whether true or false, tested the public’s faith in the company’s Internal Affairs division that was created after similar accusations were leveled against the company the previous year.
On a stronger note for the popular sandbox game, this year also saw the addition of a trained economist to the CCP staff whose job it is to oversee the in-game economy of EVE.
May 29th, 2007
Blizzard announced that they intended to take legal action against a company called “Peons4hire”. Peons4hire are a gold-selling business that is best known for spamming chat channels in Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.
June 25th, 2007
Blizzard announces that their popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft, surpassed the 9 million subscriber range worldwide.